Friday, October 22, 2010

The Stranger

The clouds were drenched with degrees of grey; the moon with cold silver, all were scattered across a black sky. Silence echoed everywhere, them, in the inscrutable horizon of ethereal figures, could hear it. Behind the closed windows, life lay.
   A pair of varnished shoes trod the ground. Wearing them, a man wrapped in a black coat the same texture as night.
   She looked like ice before melting. Her lips were painted in cheap red, her eyes in blue. Her body was easily traceable in the clothes she wore. She was old, and yet, young. Sitting beside her, was a bald man in his late fifties struggling to keep his eyelids open enough to make a person think he is alert.  The air in the bar was stale, was heavy.
    “They call us cheap,” her lips parted to say. “They call us cheap those women in fancy clothes.”
  “Yeah,” the bald man answered while resting his head on the table. He took another gulp of the beer.
    “They, those women I mean, got everything and are happy with it and we got nothing and are happy with it. Why won’t they just leave us alone? They and their stupid pride! I hate them.”
   The door of the bar opened. A man in varnished shoes and a black coat entered. There were only two people in the bar beside himself.
   “Aren’t we gonnaــ” the bald man halted, searching for air. “go?” he finally said.
  “No, not know. I mean, I dunno what else I’d like to be if I wasn’t here,” she continued.
  “What did you say? I didn’t hear that. I wanna go.”
     The man in black coat caught sight of the woman. He looked intently at her, confusion coloring his features.
   “I saidــ,”she trailed off, “Oh just forget about it. You know, I wouldn’t like to have their lives. I knew someone many years ago I can hardly remember her anymore.  She  had it and she just didn’t want it. It was all too heavy, owning everything and losing yourself in between… that’s what she said.”  She saw a man in black coat, his eyes fixed on her. She was used to men looking at her. She tilted her head the other way.
   “Did you say we are gonna go now?” the bald man asked, breathing heavily between the words.
    “No. No, I didn’t say that. That woman, she reminded me of something, we are all suffering. We ,all of us, are the same. Running away is sometimes inevitable for you to believe it” She looked at the bald man, caring for nothing more than the cup of beer he clutched. She smiled. Bitterly.  “And why am I telling all of this to you?  These are not secrets. I guess confessions also count even when the person you are talking to won’t understand a thing. So now, I am making confessions, that’s what I’m doing.” She laughed, a sick laugh, chocking on tears. Her eyes then fell on the man in black coat. He was still looking at her. She let her eyes search his face and was swept by an eerie sense of déjà vu.
   The man in black coat saw that the woman was too looking at him. He took that chance and advanced towards her.
   The woman saw the man coming her way. She looked away nervously. He lifted her face in his hands and bent to have a closer look at it. It felt like oxygen had totally escaped the bar. He let go of her face in embarrassment.
  “I am very sorry,” he said, “ you look a lot like someone I used to know…but you couldn’t be her.”
   He turned away heading for the door, the weight of disappointment obvious in the way his shoulders hunched.
   “But what if I am her?” the woman abruptly said, resting her head on one hand in a reckless manner. Challenge colored her tone
   The man stopped. “No,” he murmured as though to himself, “ You are  not her. Nothing can ever happen to change someone so much.”
      “You are quite wrong,” her face went very stern, “Life happens.” She let out another sick laugh.
     He looked at the woman in front of him and forced his memory to recollect shreds of what she looked like. There was a great similarity between the two faces but, no, she couldn’t be her. She, who owned everything could never one day be so cheap. He went away, the thudding of his varnished shoes no longer to be heard.
    She looked at the man, tracing his every step to the door. And when the door was slammed, she watched as he slowly faded into an ethereal silhouette of black in the horizon.Her eyes could no longer see him, and out of them, tears were spilled


Allie said...

wow, this was so sad. the entire scene is portrayed so delicately, the ending made me tear up!

JeffScape said...

There's a lot of ambition in this, particularly in learning to balance the dialog.

Be sure to take care when punctuating stories like these... there are few moments that get lost to momentary confusion. Do the same when segregating your characters. No major problems, but there were a few minor hangups.

Tell this one in the present tense.

Good effort. This style suits you.

Brian Miller said...

nice. i like this a lot maha...great use of emotion...and a little different for you in the story telling..

PattiKen said...

Nice little twist at the end. Very sad. Life does indeed happen, more cruelly to some than others.

Julie said...

This reminded me a bit of a play by Harold Pinter called "The Birthday Party'. It is about two people having a conversation at cross-purposes. This is a great idea for a story and I would really like to see you work on it more and put it into the Exchange.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Me thinks they weren't strangers....Great piece-I really loved the hook you left hanging. :)

Tom said...

great ending led up nicely to it.

Baino said...

Aww how the mighty have fallen eh. Dialogue is hard, I don't do it much for that reason. I would have liked to have known a bit more about her fall from grace.

joanny said...


This was a deep and intensely moving short story. A difficult style of writing to pull off, however, you did it with a wonderful execution of style in your story. There was tension, drama, two people -- the woman naturally and the man who came in from the night, that seem to have a story to be told, beside the small revel in this short piece. This easily can be an excerpt from a more developed plot in a essay or book.

I enjoyed it and it played with my emotions, and that is what a good writer is after to engage the reader and pull them into the story so they are inseparable, and my dear Maha you did just that.


Blasphemous Aesthete said...

It was indeed, a strange rendezvous... ghost from(of) the past.

Sumit Sarkar said... touching....
your writing is superb...

Cloudia said...

very atmospheric

Aloha from Hawaii

Comfort Spiral


Jingle said...

you have the powerful to draw readers, which is unbeatable.
keep it up.

Jingle said...

two awards for you,
invite you to join us at jingle poetry….

Harnett-Hargrove said...

I like a seemingly hard character that tears up at the end. Nice twist. -J

rantravereflect/ jane said...

Great dialogue- n a nice blast frm the past reference. aesthetic n well written with a lot of depth!

just a girl said...

It's very powerful, the way you handle your words.

She Writes said...

BEAUTIFUL opening.